The federal pay raise, which goes into effect today, will push salaries up among staff members at the White House and on Capitol Hill.
Up to 14 members of President Carter's staff, by law, will be entitled to $57,500 a year, the same salary that senators and House members will receive now.
For the three top elected officers of the House - the clerk, the sergeant at arms and the doorkeeper - the new raise will put them at $52,500. Coming on top of another little-noticed pay increase voted for these three House officers last month, their salaries would be $12,900 above what they were receiving less than six months ago.
Also eligible by law to receive $52,500 a year are 11 House leadership aides and five employees of the legislative counsel's office. It is not yet certain whether all those entitled to the top salary will get it.
On the Senate side, its two elected officers - the secretary of the Senate, sergeant at arms - and the legislative counsel will get $52,500. Senate leadership aides and other top officers will be in the $49,000 to $51,937-a-year range.
Though the $12,900 raise given senators and House members has drawn publicity and criticism, top Hill staff workers have kept pace financially by an intricate and less visible series of legislative and political maneuvers.
A major justification given for the House officers' two-step leap in pay has been to keep their salaries equal to those earned by the secretary of the Senate and that body's sergeant at arms.
"It was an embarrassment to the [House] clerk to be paid less than his opposite number in the Senate," one House aide knowledgeable in the recent salary maneuvering said last week.
Three other House employees benefit directly from the House officers' pay increases.
Under an archaic political tradeoff system, the House majority Democrats allow the GOP minority to pay what is called "a shadow government" - three employees who hold the titles of minority clerk, minority sergeant at arms and minority doorkeeper.
"They don't share the responsibility," an aide to House Minority Leader John J. Rhodes (R-Ariz.), said.
"Thus they are at one pay level below their majority counterparts who have official responsibilities."
The three members of the minority shadow government" are paid $41,800 a year. They work for Rhodes on the House floor, manning an information computer, informing members on votes and helping in the cloakroom and whip operations.
According to a Democratic House aide, a majority employee doing the same job earns $30,000 a year or less.
Ironically, when the pay of the other House officers goes to $52,500 the House postmaster, who is also elected, will remain at $31,500. His salary has been frozen at that level since 1969 when House members, pigued at the then-incumbent, adopted a resolution setting his salary and elimitating any cost-of-living increase.
A new postmaster was elected in 1972 but he has yet to get a raise. last month, when the clerk and other officers were voted an increase, the postmaster was left out.Rhodes, however, gave an increase to the "shadow" Republican postmaster who now makes more than the man who actually does the job.
Eleven other Democratic and Republican leadership employees will also be eligible for the $52,00 top salary march 1.
These include three staffers for Speaker Thomas P. (Tip) O'Neil, two each working for the majority and minority leaders' offices, one each in the majority and minority work offices and the top staff members of the Democratic Steering and Republican Policy committees.
One of the aides involved said last week the top salary level he and his colleagues will receive is "only recognition that these are senior government positions - they ought to be paid at a high rate." He added that top staffers work long hours, have heavy responsibilities and "have very ridky jobs."
"One mistake," he said, "and out we go. There is no Civil Serice to protect us."
"One mistake," he said, "and out we go. There is no Civil Service to protect us."
"Whatever the justification for the high pay, the leadership aides' salaries are established by a strange mechanism. By House resolution adopted two years ago, the leadership staff by above the highest salary paid HOuse committee aides.
So, when House Democrats last December voted in caucus to raise the salary of the top two committee staff members (one majority, one majotiry), that same action automatically raised the allowance pay ot the aides to the House leadership.
Not all these aides may get the full increase. Rhodes, according to an aide, may hold same funds back not only in the leadership category but also money avaible to the "shadow government."
Republican Minority Whio Robert Michel does not pay his top aide the full amount allowed (now $44,700). and is not expected to grant the full March 1 raise.
Five other HOuse employess, who earn top salaries working in the non-partisan legislative counsel's office, will also be eligibel for the $32,500 salary.
The desire to reach the traditional better pay of the Senate has pushed House salaries beyond just the three House offices.
Whe Rep. George Shipley (D-I11) reoved to raise the pay of the two top House committee aides he was reacting to the loss of at lease one key committee aide to a higher paying job in the Senate. As a result of the new pay boost, the staff chief and ranking minority employee on each standing House committeewill be entitled to $50,000 a year beginning March 1 - the same pay avaible to top Senate committee staff.
"House members and the staffs here don't like the inequality of salaries between the two bodies, a with the increase top aides in a senator's personal office could get the $50,00 rate beginning in march while a House members' administrative assistant still will be limited to $47,500 even with the new pay system.
Though the pay law sets maximums for office staff salaries, individual congressmen do not have to pay their employees the full amonut, When the 5 per cent cost of living pay raise was permitted for HOuse employesss last October, 53 per cent of the members gave their staffs the increase, according to testimony by the House clerk before an appropriation subcommittee last Thursday.